Globe West | Arts

‘In the Bag’ competition requires ingenuity

‘‘Sparkling Water’’ is the entry of Marlborough artist Sue Hillegass for a show at Post Road Art Center. She says: ‘‘For the waves I shredded the plastic packaging the canvas was wrapped in.’’

Randi Isaacson, owner of Post Road Art Center in Marlborough, believes she has found a unique way to “bring artists outside their box,’’ as she puts it.

Artists, whether professional or amateur, who choose to participate in the art center’s first “It’s in the Bag’’ show are challenged to create a work of art using only the items provided in a preassembled bag that they can purchase at the center from now through March 3 for $25, which also includes the show fee. The entries will be on exhibit starting March 8, and visitors may vote on their favorites.

Exhibition entrant Mona Bhoyar of Framingham said that once she opened her mystery bag and got to work, the true benefits of this competition became clear to her.


“I like that everyone is being challenged at the same level,’’ she said. “Often, as artists, when we submit our work to a show we are drawing upon our usual styles to fit a particular topic. In this case, we’ll all be working in a way that is new to us, and it’s especially interesting to have to work with a limited amount of resources.’’

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The resources to which Bhoyar refers are those with which Isaacson stocked each bag. They include an orange marker, a charcoal pencil, a glossy gel material, molding paste, and some paint: 12 items in all, according to Isaacson.

For Lori Vintilescu, who began taking painting classes at Post Road Art Center after she moved to Marlborough from Virginia a year ago, using the materials she found in her bag required her to “reach beyond my comfort zone and use products I’m not normally used to. Some of them I didn’t even know about,’’ she said.

One puzzle for Vintilescu was how to create colors beyond the paint and markers provided; she described how she broke open a marker and squeezed out the orange ink to mix it with blue paint and make brown.

“The scope of the project involved taking very simple items and using all your knowledge to come up with something interesting. It forced you to think a little differently about the tools you had at hand,’’ she said.


When Sue Hillegass of Marlborough heard about “It’s in the Bag,’’ she said, she was “like a little kid before Christmas, waiting for the bag to arrive so I could see what was inside.’’ Hillegass, an insurance underwriter who has taken art classes for the past 15 years, believes she is similar to a lot of artists in that she tends to work with a small range of materials and products.

“I’m not the greatest in terms of drawing; I’m much more comfortable with painting,’’ she said. “I wouldn’t have thought to use markers, and I had never used charcoal before, but it’s great for shadowing and clouds. I’ll use it again. Even the brushes were a particular shape I hadn’t used before.’’

Hillegass found herself staring at the contents of the bag for quite a while before she started to use anything.

“The image that kept jumping out at me was an ocean sunset, because of the orange and blue colors,’’ she said. “I knew we could use only what’s in the bag, so for the waves I shredded the plastic packaging that the canvas was wrapped in so there’s a glistening effect when the light hits it. Now that my entry is finished, I’m really excited to see what other artists have done.’’

According to Isaacson, selecting the contents of the bags involved both creative inspiration and practical considerations, including negotiating with her vendors to come up with materials that would make the cost of the bags come in at $25. She looks forward to seeing how the public reacts to the works once they are on exhibit and also how they vote; submitting artwork to a democratic process is unusual at the Post Road Art Center, where shows are normally juried.


“This will be a wonderful opportunity to appreciate the creativity and resourcefulness of our local artists on a level playing field,’’ Isaacson said. Artists may buy their bag of supplies during regular business hours at the art center, 1 Boston Post Road East in Marlborough, until the competition’s entry deadline, March 3.

Each participant may submit one piece for the show, and cash prizes will be awarded for the top four entries, as determined by viewers’ voting. The show opens with a reception on March 8 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., and will remain on exhibit in the art center’s gallery through March 29.

For more information, call 508-485-2580 or go to www.postroadartcenter.com.

CHORAL MASTERPIECES: Maestro Bruce Hangen and the Orchestra of Indian Hill will perform with two area singing ensembles in a concert featuring choral masterpieces by Haydn and Stravinsky at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Littleton High School Performing Arts Center, 56 King St.

The event will feature singers from the Nashoba Valley Chorale and Harvard Pro Musica, along with four acclaimed guest soloists: Susan Bonito, soprano; Gale Fuller, alto; Joseph Holmes, tenor; and Aaron Engebreth, baritone.

There is a preconcert talk at 2:15 p.m. by Hangen and guests. Following the concert, audience members are invited to stay for Stage Talk, when Hangen, orchestra players, and soloists will take questions. Tickets are $20 to $45 ($15 for students). Call 978-486-9524, ext. 116, or go to www.indianhillmusic.org to order online.

SINGING “RUDDIGORE’’: The Sudbury Savoyards will present “Ruddigore, or The Witch’s Curse,’’ Gilbert and Sullivan’s “supernatural’’ comic opera and their 10th collaboration, at 8 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, and March 2 and 3, as well as 2 p.m. Sunday and March 3 at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, 390 Lincoln Road in Sudbury. There is also a discounted dress rehearsal performance tonight at 8 p.m.

The musical recounts the tale of the cursed baronets of Ruddigore: Anyone who accedes to the title must commit a crime every day or perish in agony.

Tickets are $22, or $17 for seniors and students, and $12 for ages 12 and younger; tonight’s dress rehearsal will cost $15. For more information or to order tickets in advance, go to www.sudburysavoyards.org or call 978-443-8811 and leave a message.

SONGS OF FREEDOM: The Labyrinth Choir will perform its debut concert with a program titled “We Who Believe in Freedom’’ in venues in Framingham and Lexington.

The program - featuring the choir, a pianist, and a percussionist playing African drums - will include spirituals, South African, Latvian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim songs, and audience participation.

The regional ensemble’s first performance is Sunday at 2 p.m. at Amazing Things Arts Center, 160 Hollis St. in Framingham, followed by a 7:30 p.m. concert March 10 at Hancock United Church of Christ, 1912 Mass. Ave. in Lexington.

Tickets are $15, or $14 for students and seniors.

For more information, e-mail info@labyrinthchoir.org.

GROUP HOME DYNAMICS: The Dean College Theatre Department presents “The Boys Next Door,’’ a play by Tom Griffin that tells the story of four developmentally disabled men who live together in a group home, along with their weary social worker.

Performances are Feb. 28, 29, and March 1 at 6:30 p.m.; March 2, 3, 4 at 7:30 p.m., and March 3 and 4 at 2 p.m. at the Performing Arts Studio, on the Dean campus at 61 School St. in Franklin.

All performances are reserved seating, with tickets $15 for the general public, $10 for Dean staff and alumni, and $5 for seniors, Dean students, and children ages 10 and younger.

For tickets and more information, e-mail boxoffice@dean.edu, call 508-541-1605, or go to www.dean.edu/boysnextdoor.

Send ideas to westarts@ globe.com.